Note: Tom Goldtooth is the Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network. Global Justice Ecology Project works closely with IEN, and stands in solidarity with the below statement.
-The GJEP Team
By Tom B.K. Goldtooth, March 6, 2013. Source: Indigenous Environmental Network
Last Friday, March 1st, in an unexpected move, President Obama’s U.S. Department of State released its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (this is the proposed pipeline section from the Montana/Canada border to southern Nebraska, Steele City). The report defies common sense when the U.S. Department of State says “the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands.” The report understates many of the risks the tar sands pipeline poses not only to the ecosystem, but to the human health of communities living at the source of the tar sands crude oil that will flow through the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline.
The Department of State is saying it is only a draft technical report and that they’re “not going to come out and make conclusions at this point until we engage with public and get some feedback.” Federal notification of the draft SEIS will be posted this week establishing only a 45-day public comment period.
The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) stands in support of the statement released last Friday by Chief Allan Adams, of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN), Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, Canada, whose people live downstream from the source of the toxic crude oil that will flow through this Keystone XL pipeline. Chief Adams said of the draft SEIS:
I must stress my extreme disappointment with this report. The fact that the Keystone XL pipeline is deemed as non-consequential simply paves the way for its approval and is directly connected to the unabated expansion of Tar Sands in my peoples’ traditional lands….and the Keystone is a vital pipeline for expansion. Expansion of the tar sands means a death sentence for our way for life, destruction of eco-systems vital to the continuation of our inherent treaty rights and massive contributions to catastrophic global climate change, a fate we all share.”
There is substantial documentation of the devastation of the environment, ecosystem, water, air, and more recently the health of the Native people living in the national sacrifice zone of the tar sands. Evidence of rare cancers linked to petroleum contamination is on the increase. The Alberta tar sands are far away, in another country, but the Obama administration could be making a decision that can directly affect the health and future of the Dene, Cree and Metis’ First Nations people. The U.S. Department of State addresses human rights issues worldwide, however, in this report; it completely ignores its responsibility to apply U.S. policy on environmental justice and its commitment to address human rights.